How to Hold Cats While Bathing

Sometimes self-grooming is not quite enough.

Sometimes self-grooming is not quite enough.

If you've never tried giving a cat a bath, you're in for a surprise -- potentially not a fun one. Most cats are not fond of baths, so knowing how to hold them is key to a safe bath for Kitty -- as well as your hands. If you start bathing when they are kittens, you will have a much better experience when they grow up.

Get all supplies ready before you start. Once water gets involved, Kitty likely won't be a happy camper. The bathtub might be too large and traumatic for Kitty, so consider buying a large plastic bucket -- the kind that's low and with a wide opening. Then fill it with enough water so Kitty could stand in it and his head wouldn't be submerged. He might not stand up inside it, but you don't want to risk traumatizing the poor boy if he gets away from you.

Place Kitty inside the tub and quickly move your hands toward his back. If you leave your hands under his body -- touching the belly or chest -- chances are you will end up scratched up by the time the bath is over. Instead, place one hand on top of his neck, just where the head ends, and the other one on his lower back.

Hold Kitty down firmly but gently. If you push down too hard, you might end up with a cat who will fight back and try to get away. Don't squeeze the skin too hard. Remove the hand on his lower back quickly to rub shampoo or pour water over his body. You might need to put your hand back on his back between rubbing or rinsing to avoid Kitty escaping. Use a pitcher or a hand-held shower handle on a mild setting to wash the shampoo off.


  • Close the bathroom door before you start bathing Kitty. You don't want Kitty escaping and then running wild and wet throughout the house.
  • Keep the bath short. The longer you keep Kitty in the water, the more chances something will go wrong -- and you might end up with scratches all over.


  • If you know Kitty hates water -- because you've tried giving him a bath before -- enlist backup. One person can then hold Kitty down while the other does the washing.

Video of the Day

Brought to you by Cuteness
Brought to you by Cuteness

About the Author

Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.

Photo Credits

  • Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images